Turkish leader to meet Macron, Merkel over rising refugee crisis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Tuesday he will attend a summit next week with German and French leaders, following to trip to Belgium for a summit with the European Union and NATO.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Turkish President Recep Erdogan next week for a summit in Istanbul, Turkey. File Photo by Eco Clement/

Erdogan met with EU officials in Brussels Monday to discuss an ongoing migrant crisis in Turkey, which has been fueled by fighting in neighboring Syria. Erdogan has said Ankara will no longer stop Syrian refugees from passing through Turkey on their way to Greece — which had been a provision of an EU agreement.

The reason Erdogan is allowing the refugees, he says, is because the European bloc isn’t holding up its end of the deal. The Turkish leader said his nation can no longer absorb tens of thousands of Syrians.

“Turkey has paid a great price for cease-fire and protecting civilians in Idlib, Syria, now EU must do its part,” Erdogan said on his return to Turkey Tuesday.

A new summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron — and possibly British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — will be held in Istanbul next week, Erdogan added.

“The EU has to see the bigger picture,” he said. “[The] refugee crisis is a test of leadership and will matter for the EU more than for us.”

A 2016 agreement between Turkey and the European coalition bars migrants traveling to Europe through Greece.

British Foreign Office Minister Nigel Adams said Tuesday the crisis at the Turkey-Greece border has reached a critical point that needs a solution, and blamed Syrian and Russian aggression in Idlib.

“The key to this situation is dialogue,” he said. “At the same time, we recognize Turkey’s generosity and the burden in supporting millions of refugees who have fled the civil war in Syria.

It is estimated that fighting in Idlib province has displaced nearly 1 million Syrians since December.

ByClyde Hughes